Theo cooks

Slow-Cooked Pork Belly with Roasted Apple Ketchup

Preparation time:
1 hour 20 minutes
Cooking time:
3 hours 15 minutes
6 servings

I do love a bit of pork belly – it’s one of my favourite roasts and it’s always greeted with a cheer when I serve it in one whole piece on a board. It’s the contrast between the incredibly moist meat and the crisp shards of crackling that does it for me... and here, the pork is roasted on a bed of apples that are smashed into a rich apple ketchup.

  • Ingredients

    • A 2-kg/4-lb. 8-oz. piece of pork belly, skin scored, ideally by your butcher
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 white onion, sliced
    • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
    • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
    • 3 fresh or dried bay leaves
    • 6 cloves
    • 3 garlic cloves, whole and lightly cracked
    • 6 apples, halved
    • 250 ml white wine
    • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
    • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Method

    • Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3.
    • Ask your butcher to score the skin of the pork belly, being careful not to cut through to the meat. Or, if you feel confident, use a sharp knife and do the same yourself – it doesn’t need to be pretty, just have lots of cuts to help the skin crisp up. If you can, leave the pork uncovered in a roasting pan in your fridge overnight as this really helps dry out the skin, but don’t worry if it’s not possible. Take the meat out of the fridge at least 1 hour before you want to cook it to bring it up to room temperature. Drizzle the vegetable oil over the scored skin of the pork belly, then season it generously with salt and pepper.
    • Scatter the sliced onions, herb sprigs, bay leaves, cloves and garlic across the bottom of the pan. Arrange the apple halves, cut-side down, and grouped together in the middle of the pan and, pour in the wine and sugar.
    • Add 125 ml cold water to the pan. Season well with salt and pepper.
    • Place the pork belly on top of the apples, and roast it in the preheated oven for 3 hours. After that time, whack the temperature up to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6 for about 15 minutes, or until the skin has bubbled and you have a golden roof of crackling over the pork.
    • Take the pan out of the oven and transfer the pork to a warmed plate and leave it to rest for 15–20 minutes.
    • While the meat is resting, scoop out all the roasted apples and other ingredients into your Kenwood processor or bowl if using the Kenwood hand blender (include all those burnt bits for extra flavour!). You can save a few apple halves for garnish before mashing if liked.
    • Gently pulse the ingredients until you have a coarse puree and pass through a sieve to remove any tough bits then taste and add more seasoning, sugar or vinegar, as you feel is necessary.
    • If you don’t have a hand blender or food processor you can mash by hand.
    • Place the pork belly on a serving board and smear some apple ketchup alongside it. Spoon the rest into a serving bowl and set it alongside for people to help themselves. A good, sharp carving knife and fork need to be close by, ready
      to serve.

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Share by Theo Michaels, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£16.99)
Photography by Mowie Kay © Ryland Peters & Small

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